My total focus is on competition now: Cyclist who accused chief coach of sexual harassment
With the accused coach now sacked, the cyclist is still coming to terms with the harrowing experience and is looking to find succour at the Asian Track Cycling Championships next.
Her first battle was won when the administrators acknowledged her complaints of "inappropriate behaviour" by the chief coach and now she is gearing up for another -- the Asian Track Championships. Now that the accused RK Sharma has been sacked, the cyclist, still coming to terms with the harrowing experience during a foreign exposure trip to Slovenia, is looking to find succour at the Asian Track Cycling Championships, beginning Saturday.
The Indian sports community was rocked by the allegations by the cyclist earlier this month. She had reportedly feared for her life due to the alleged harassment during the Slovenia trip, where she was the only female in the Indian contingent. The coach had reportedly made inappropriate advances that hed made her uncomfortable. Following her complaint, she was immediately flown back to the country, while the coach was sacked and is now facing a detailed investigation.
She has also filed an FIR against him. But the Asian Track Championships -- an Olympic-ranking point event -- has her full focus now. "I am expecting a medal and my total focus (mentally) is on the competition," she said, reluctant to speak about the controversy.
"My performance has been good recently and I came first in the trials also. But there was no (international) competition for the past two years because of COVID-19," she told PTI. "We had a month-long camp in Slovenia (in the run up to the Asian Track Championships). I have trained well and here I have events in all days." As preparations went on in full swing at the velodrome at the Indira Gandhi Stadium, all Indian cyclists looked in competition mode. Focused. Most of them going ahead with their last minute preparations without thinking about the headlines the Slovenia trip made.
"There is no focus on that (the controversy). We are only focused on the competition. Yes, we did talk about it in the camp but right now we don't have time to think about it," Manipuri's Rojit Singh, who will take part in the men's team sprint event, said. Chief coach VN Singh also had the same thing to say. "If we leave one or two, all others are not bothered. They are focused on the event," Singh said.
"The endurance group are in a good state of mind than before. They are also focusing on the tournament," he added. Due to the unfortunate chain of events that transpired earlier this month, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) had called back the entire Indian endurance contingent from Slovenia before than their scheduled return. But Singh feels the early return worked in favour of the cyclists as they got more time to acclimatise to New Delhi's scorching heat. "They had to come on 15th and they returned on 12th. So, 2-3 days didn't make much of a difference.
"They should have originally also come back earlier. The scheduling was wrong. Slovenia was cold here it's warm. They need to spend time at the place before the event," he added. He is expecting a good show from the home team, adding that the tournament is an opportunity to assess the other countries level. "It's our home ground, and we are well prepared. The team is better than before. We are expecting medals. "At the same time, this event is happening after two years of no competition. So everyone will be seeing each others level," he added